A good place to start is reviewing and updating any critical documents. These include things like power of attorney, health care directives, wills and trusts. Your financial advisor and your attorney should be able to assist you with obtaining these documents.
The health care directive and power of attorney should be considered the top priorities. Let’s take a closer look at these.
What is a Health Care Directive?
The care recipient can designate a health care agent as a surrogate or proxy to make medical decisions if at some time in the future the care recipient is unable to make those decisions themselves. The agent can be a close relative or a friend, but it should be someone that’s known and trusted by the care recipient.
In most states the agent can make decisions any time the care recipient loses the ability to make medical decisions — not just decisions about end of life. The agent and care recipient need to discuss the values and quality of life issues relating to big decisions about treatment and future medical situations.
The care recipient should explain what they are asking the agent to do, and talk about why they picked them. The health care agent needs to know about the quality of life that’s important to the care recipient, and what medical treatments they would want in certain situations. These discussions are important because situations can occur that the care recipient can’t anticipate, and the agent may needs to base a decision on what they know about the care recipient’s values and what makes life worth living.
So these are definitely not simple questions, and people’s views may change. The care recipient should talk to the agent in depth and repeatedly over time.
For similar reasons, a legal proxy is also needed. Be sure that a care giving plan also addresses the power of attorney issue.
What is a Power of Attorney?
There are two types of Power of Attorney — there’s a durable power of attorney and a springing power of attorney.
Durable Power of Attorney
A durable power of attorney (or DPOA) is effective immediately after signed (unless stated otherwise), allowing your agent to act on your behalf. You can rescind a durable power of attorney using a revocation of power of attorney form, as long as you’re competent.
Springing Power of Attorney
A springing (or conditional) power of attorney only goes into effect when specific criteria in the power of attorney is met. For example, military personnel may draft a springing power of attorney that goes into effect when they’re deployed overseas. It can end at a specified time, when you become incapacitated or upon death.
If you need help preparing these documents or have any questions, set up a complimentary consultation with our financial advisors.
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